How to format your references using the The Astrophysical Journal Letters citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for The Astrophysical Journal Letters. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Padma, T. V. 2005, Nature, 436, 492
A journal article with 2 authors
Latch, D. E., & McNeill, K. 2006, Science, 311, 1743
A journal article with 3 authors
Sazonov, S. Y., Lutovinov, A. A., & Sunyaev, R. A. 2004, Nature, 430, 646
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Cho, W., Lee, H. J., Choi, S., Kim, Y., & Oh, M. 2014, Sci Rep, 4, 6518

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Center for Chemical Process Safety. 2010, Guidelines for Acquisition Evaluation and Post Merger Integration (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
An edited book
Roussak, O. V. 2013, Applied Chemistry: A Textbook for Engineers and Technologists (2nd ed. 2013; Boston, MA: Springer US)
A chapter in an edited book
Shakhov, V., & Choo, H. 2008, in Computer-Human Interaction: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference, APCHI 2008 Seoul, Korea, July 6-9, 2008 Proceedings, ed. S. Lee, H. Choo, S. Ha, & I. C. Shin (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer), 40

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Blog post
Andrew, E. 2014, IFLScience (IFLScience)


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. 1994, School-Age Children: Poverty and Diversity Challenge Schools Nationwide (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office)

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Anderson, E. 2017, Predicting Home Purchase Location in DC: An Intersectional Approach (Washington, DC: George Washington University)

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
McKINLEY, J. C., Jr. 2017, New York Times, A24

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Padma 2005).
This sentence cites two references (Latch & McNeill 2006; Padma 2005).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Latch & McNeill 2006)
  • Three or more authors: (Cho et al. 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
AbbreviationAstrophys. J. Lett.
ISSN (print)2041-8205
ISSN (online)2041-8213
ScopeSpace and Planetary Science
Astronomy and Astrophysics

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